At this point, those jitters seem likely to delay consideration of the measure another year, no matter how much supporters argue that the bill — with its broad public support — is uncontroversial.

But if McCaffrey winds up supporting the proposal in the next year or two, giving it some legs in the Senate chamber, it is not too much of a stretch to imagine the leadership in both houses getting behind it.

And while the Catholic Church was able to exploit the General Assembly's socially conservative bent to derail gay marriage last year, no comparable opposition has emerged around decriminalization.

If the bill does eventually pass, the next and final prize will inevitably come into view: full legalization and regulation of marijuana.

Sound outlandish? Perhaps it is. Voters in Colorado and Washington will cast ballots on legalization this fall. But there is one crucial difference between Rhode Island and those two states.

There, advocates can gather signatures to put a measure on the ballot. Here, the legislature has to approve any questions that go before the voters. And it's hard to see Senator McCaffrey going along with that.

David Scharfenberg can be reached at

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  | 
Related: Up in smoke?, The Last Weed Defendant, Portland’s medical-pot prognosis: Keep patients waiting, More more >
  Topics: News Features , Rhode Island, John Edwards, Marijuana,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   LIBERAL WARRIOR  |  April 10, 2013
    When it comes to his signature issues — climate change, campaign finance reform, tax fairness — Whitehouse makes little secret of his approach: marshal the facts, hammer the Republicans, and embarrass them into action.
    A key Brown University oversight committee has voted to recommend the school divest from coal, delivering a significant victory to student climate change activists.
  •   HACKING POLITICS: A GUIDE  |  April 03, 2013
    Last year, the Internet briefly upended everything we know about American politics.
  •   BREAK ON THROUGH  |  March 28, 2013
    When I spoke with Treasurer Gina Raimondo this week, I opened with the obligatory question about whether she'll run for governor. "I'm seriously considering it," she said. "But I think as you know — we've talked about it before — I have little kids: a six-year-old, an eight-year-old. I'm a mother. It's a big deal."
  •   THE LIBERAL CASE FOR GUNS  |  March 27, 2013
    The school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut spurred hope not just for sensible gun regulation, but for a more nuanced discussion of America's gun culture. Neither wish has been realized.

 See all articles by: DAVID SCHARFENBERG